Wright Memorial Bridge Construction Is Almost Complete

Dated: 03/28/2015

Views: 757

This article was written by Sam Walker for the Outer Banks Voice. You can read more articles here http://outerbanksvoice.com/.

While it’s taken longer than anyone would like, the resurfacing of the westbound Wright Memorial Bridge is finally nearing completion after two long off-seasons of two-way traffic between Kitty Hawk and Point Harbor.

A special latex-modified concrete overlay has been placed on 222 of the 249 spans of the 3.1-mile-long bridge, according to N.C. Department of Transportation spokesperson Jennifer Heiss.

“Weather permitting, we should have the work complete by May 15,” Heiss said. “Should work not be complete by that date, the bridge would still open to traffic by May 15.”

Workers returned to the project in early March and started pouring the latex-modified concrete overlay onto the remaining sections of bridge deck last week.

The special mixture could only be applied when temperatures were between 50 and 85 degrees, surface temperatures were between 40 and 85 degrees and wind speeds were no more than 10 mph.

In addition, 182 of the 249 seals that allow the bridge to expand and contract with the weather have been completed, according to Heiss.

G.A. & F.C. Wagman Inc. of York, Pa. was able to finish two-thirds of the bridge before Memorial Day weekend 2014, but had to return in the fall to finish the $6.3 million project.

Engineers had expected the weather to cause delays before last Memorial Day weekend, and back-to-back-to-back snowfalls in the winter of 2014 led to crews needing another off-season to finish.

The only fines that would be levied against the contractor were $1,000 per day if the bridge could not be opened to traffic before Memorial Day weekend because of the expectation that it could take longer than one off-season to complete the resurfacing.

The bridge reopened to traffic on May 12 of last year, but was closed again on Sept. 14.

Progress was being made this fall and the start of winter thanks to relatively mild temperatures and low winds, but came to a halt just before the holidays.

“The schedule is tight due to the cold winter temperatures we had from Christmas until just a few weeks ago and the temperature/wind dependent nature of the materials being used,” Heiss said.

When the westbound bridge was built in 1995, the supports of the deck did not bend as expected after the concrete road deck was poured on top.

The road deck between each bent, which is the combination of pilings that supports the bridge, had a more pronounced “hump” causing a bouncy ride.

A similar issue developed on other spans in the region around the same time, including the Washington Baum Bridge over Roanoke Sound, but not to the severity as on the Wright Memorial Bridge.

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Kathleen Argiroff

Kathleen relocated to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with her husband and three children in 1989 from the Philadelphia and Stone Harbor, NJ areas. One of her greatest pleasures is introducing peopl....

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